For those of us who are blessed to live in this mostly ‘gentle’ part of the world, the pictures and numbers that are coming from the Mediterranean and Europe are truly staggering. Not since the end of World War Two have so many refugees been on the move, and probably never have such people been quite so desperate.
The main focus is on those who are fleeing war and terrorism in half a dozen countries in the middle east and north Africa, Some estimates put the number in the millions. Civil war in Syria alone has taken the lives of more than 250,000 people, most of them civilians. The refugees pay huge amounts to cross the sea to Europe in boats that are dangerously overcrowded and not very seaworthy.
This past week came a dramatic photo which may have finally provided the ‘tipping point’. It was a shot of a three year old Syrian boy. He had drowned and was lying face down on a beach in Turkey. We’re told that his family had tried unsuccessfully to emigrate to Canada earlier this year.
Western Europe, particularly Germany, has stepped up in a big way to the migrant crisis. Chancellor Angela Merkel has not been shy about urging her NATO allies to do more. Stephen Harper has committed Canada to accept 40,000 refugees over the next two or three years. Recently, the Germans have sometimes been accepting that many in the space of one week.
On the campaign trail, Harper and Mulcair and Trudeau are all being asked what Canada’ role will be after the 19th of October. Their answers are cautious and short on specifics.
South of the border, the Americans are really between a rock and a hard place. With the exception of the Donald, most of the people who want to replace Barack Obama in the White House are in favour of America doing its part. But at the same time the Homeland Security types are afraid that terrorists will get into the U.S. amongst the refugees.
It’s a truly horrible situation, and it’s not about to get better anytime soon.
I’m Roger Currie